by Michæl Bergey
Text ©2009 Michæl Bergey; illustration ©2009 Kenket
The phone rang while Mooney was driving Mouse to school, but I didnt answer it. I never answered the phone myself, but I was quite content talking with John when he was on the line. The speaker phone setting was best, but not actually necessary, and with Mooneys coaching I had learned how to dial a telephone by holding a pencil in my teeth. It was not so hard, and Mooney seemed to think it a useful skill.
The phone rang while you were gone.
Im not sure I want any calls right now. Theyll try again if they really need me, and Im not expecting
The phone rang again while Mooney was talking, and she answered reluctantly.
No, not any more. Coyote is staying with friends in Eastern Washington, near Pullman, and the other one has disappeared. I think she was hit by a car or something.
No, I dont think she would just go feral like that. If she were alive, shed be coming back here. She really liked it at Sunbowask Mr. Gunderson.
Yes, of course you can come over. Ill be glad to help any way I can.
Okay. That would be fine. Ill be here. Mooney put the phone down carefully and turned to me with a tight, closed expression.
That was Sheriff Pickworth. Hes taking a personal interest in this stock-killing case, and he wants to check out the Sunbow area. That man scares me. When he was pushing me into the police car during the drug raid he almost pulled my arm out of its socketsaid it was an accident. He says hes already hired a couple of professional hunters, and one of them has dogs. Walker Hounds trained for cougar and bear, but he says theyll run down anything he wants them to.
Well, I guess youll need to be going now. Sheriff will be here right away. Be careful! And rememberdont come back until its dark! Sorry about lunch, but Ill have a nice dinner waiting for all of you. She gave me a good-by hug, then pushed me away, and I took my pack out of there.
I was going to take us all on a grand tour of the lower valley, but we were hardly out of Mooneys wood when we were spotted by a log truckcame on us unexpectedly, in a section where the trees had been cut so recently there was no brush to hide behind. The truck actually stopped while the driver watched us scuttle off into better cover, and I heard him talking on his radio. Log trucks dont stop for anything, and it gave me a bad feeling.
Right away I led us back into Mooneys Wood. There are no roads there, and its supposed to be a no trespassing area. We didnt need a long walk anywaymight as well hang out and take it easy for the day.
We did that, and it was rather pleasant. There had been no rain that morning, but the huge trees were still dripping slowly from the nights rain and the moss we lay on was saturated, along with who knows how many feet of rotten logs beneath it. Thousands of years worth, maybe. It was still too early in the year for mushrooms or flowers, but these woods are active all year in a cold, slow sort of way, and the moss was growing just fine. It didnt seem to mind freezing from time to time, just got back to business as soon as it thawed again.
A raven peered at us from close above, not trying to hide. I returned its gaze idly and upside down, showing a full expanse of muddy belly fur as I writhed luxuriously on the moss and hemlock needles. Lazytail lay half-asleep beside me, smelling like herself, her season, and the moss and ferns and dead leaves and beaver pond mud we had run through.
Magnificent scents! I could never tire of them.
Hey, raven! I called up jokingly, Have you come to join our pffack? Theres always room for one more, pffut you must pffe strong and clever to keepff upff with us, and you must learn to sing pffropfferly, like this. I began a mocking rendition of the Beatles Hard Days Night without using wordsjust howls. The others joined in with a standard howl chorus, and the raven flew away after landing a dropping almost inside my open mouth. Ravens are remarkably intelligent, with a Totem similar to me in many ways. I looked forward to meeting him someday.
As our howls died away I heard a faint sound from the westfrom the way we had come after being seen by the log truck driver. It was the baying of hounds.
Lazytail and Smokey paid no attention but Princess and I jumped to our feet and listened intently. Cicéqi and the other Pups did too. That sound could mean great danger for us.
Coyotes and wolves are superior to dogs. No question about that! We have to be. Were smarter, tougher, and generally healthier when not dragged down by parasites, malnutrition, and badly-healed injuries. That said, I must admit that some dogs can outperform us in some ways. Im a superb runner, but if I raced on a track with Greyhounds I would finish last. Lazytails jaws are strong, but there are dogs whose jaws are stronger. Hounds are bred to chase things until they become exhausted, and thats what they do.
Humans kill bears and cougars with hounds, and if those hounds were on our trail, and in good shape, one of us might die. The slowest one of us.
The slowest one would be Princess. There was nothing wrong with her that a few weeks of good food wouldnt cure, but she had only been eating well for three days. She kept up with us fine, but that didnt count. We were only fooling around, and those hounds werent.
Princess was the first one to move, and I was right behind herheading downstream and straight toward Sunbow. That was fine by me. It was only four miles away, and we could use it as sanctuary if we got there ahead of the hounds. I knew Mooney would protect us somehow, even if the Sheriff was still there.
Princess and I never even got close to Sunbow. Those hounds had a fresh, clear trail to follow, and they were already nearer than I had realized. And they were good.
Smokey and Lazytail left us behind, but I stayed back with Princess, and the Spirit Pups did too. Yes, I know, a regular coyote wouldnt have done that. Oh, well.
Princess tried her best, but the baying grew steadily closer and more urgent, and finally there came a savage, triumphant ring to it that I had heard before: Humans call it belling. Those hounds knew they were almost on us.
Princess put out extra speed, and we gained on them for a time, but she couldnt keep it up. Even I was beginning to feel a trifle winded. Panicked, toojust a touch.
Do you want to end this game yet? Cicéqi asked. You dont smell like youre enjoying it much. She didnt sound tired at all.
If thatsoffer of helpffpfflease do!
Like a school of minnows, Cicéqi and the others turned as a unit and streaked back the way we had come. Their movements were impossibly swiftlike Mr. Burreys and mine had once beenand they were out of sight in an instant.
I stopped, and Princess kept going, and I was alone. After some hesitation I followed the Spirit Pups.
I never saw those hounds, but I heard a lot. First were the sounds made when they sighted the Pups. Proud, and frantically excited, and absolutely thoughtless of danger. Hounds will attack anything when they feel that way. In quick succession followed the sounds of a very, very short fight, a few seconds of panicked yelping, and silence. The yelps had been from the throats of hounds, and some of them had stopped suddenly, in mid-voice.
I met Cicéqi first. She was trotting back toward me with a collar around her neck that almost touched the ground. It would have touched if she had not been holding her head so high. That collar was so big she could have wiggled her whole body through it. Cicéqi stopped in front of me and lowered her head to slip the collar onto the ground at my feet. It was a radio tracking collar, and it was half-soaked in dog blood.
That was good.
Her pale fur was groomed to perfection, without wound or stain except for a faint ring of blood on her neck which had rubbed off from the collar. She smelled like herself, except for her breath, which smelled of hound dog. All parts, not just the blood.
A moment later I had six collars in front of meeach one with a radio transmitter, and each one more or less bloody. One Pup had come back wearing two of them. The hound threat clearly was over.
Six radio collars! That must have been one valuable hound pack. So sad.
What did you do? Relief and pride and apprehension churned through me.
We protected you.
Yes, I see that, pffut what did you do with the dogs?
We ate them.
Ah, yes. I see. Do you mind if I go pffack to smell for myself? We can leave the collars here for now.
Of course, but theres nothing much left. We didnt think you liked dog, so we didnt save any. Cicéqi had that teasing look about her again, and the others did too.
Sure enough, there was nothing much left. Blood and other body fluids soaked into the moss, and the ground torn up by a violent scuffle. Nothing more.
So youre saying you just killed and ate them all?
What else should we have done? You wouldnt want us to waste all that good meat, would you?
Pffut, there were six dogs here, and each one four times your size! How could you do that?
Oh, Father, dont act so dumb. You know the answer to that!
I shut up.
The human would be coming soon, intending to shoot whatever the hounds had not already killed. We had to prepare for that. They made a fine game of it after I explained how the man could use Science to locate each collar no matter where it was hidden.
Cliff face, blackberry thicket, wedged into the back of a log truck, on top of one of Mooneys taller treesone was even slipped over the head of a sleeping farm dog. I heard them all described in detail that evening, and they were all good. I gave mine to Wynoochee on a floating log, which was not such a bad idea either.
When I got home I smelled Sheriff Pickworth all over the farm compound, and in the kitchen too. It was the same man who had spied on us just before the pot raid. I told that to Mooney, then described our dispute with the hounds.
Stinky, do you really expect me to believe those little pups killed and ate six full-grown Walker Hounds?
I pffelieve it.
Yeah, I know. I do too. Wished for magic in my life, and got my wish. Lucky me.
Well, I guess youre better protected than we thought. Good thing. Sheriff Pickworth took plaster casts of the paw prints around Sunbow, and he says some of them match the ones by that calf kill. He wants to set up a stake-out here with the other hunter. The one who doesnt use dogs. This hunter likes to sit up in trees and wait for things to come to him.
A tree hunter! Theyre even worse than the ones who run hounds. If the wind is wrong you can walk right up to one without a clue. Humans call them snipers when theyre hunting other humans.
Was the Sheriff mad when you told him no?
I didnt tell him no. I said the hunter would be welcome during the daytime, and Id feed him lunch, too.
Oh, Coyote, dont you fuss. You cant even be here in the daytime right now. Its a lot better for us to know where this guy is, and I might learn something, talking with him. Dont come close unless my bedroom light is on. You can see it from South Ridge.
Yes, I know. Mooney, how long will this go on?
As long as it has to. I dont like strangers around here either, but Im not going to let you get killed, despite what your friend Fox may say. Even Crazy Mooney has her limits.
We slept all together again, except for Princess, of course, and we left before dawn with a good breakfast in our bellies. Princess was getting used to Mooney, and didnt bother to hide while her share was being brought outside. We stayed in Mooneys Wood the whole day.
I saw the hound hunter. He had no dogs with him, and I would have followed him around except that I didnt trust Smokey and Lazy to stay out of sight. I didnt trust the Pups, either.
Can we kill him, Father? Please? Or if you like, we could just play some tricks on him.
I thought for a minute, and changed my mind, Well, maypffe you could follow him and scare him a little. Noises, and stuff like that. Pffut dont hurt him, and dont let yourselves pffe seen!
That hunter was a brave man. The Pups say he located the cliff side and treetop collars, and actually recovered the bramble thicket one, but I dont think he had a very nice time of it. He left long, long before dark, and I never smelled him again. Later I heard he quit his contract that same day.
The other hunter had a much more pleasant time. Mooney told me he wandered around Sunbow for hours, checking our tracks and so forth. Finally he proclaimed that Sunbow was a favorite spot of ours (big surprise) but we probably didnt come by much in the daytime. He set up a couple of platforms anyway, sat on one for a few hours, had coffee with Mooney, and left. He would come back next day with a goat to stake out. Mooney showed me where the platform trees were.
He really wanted to set up at nightthought it strange I wouldnt let him. But everyone knows how crazy I am. I think hell be setting up on Weyerhaeuser land or Mr. Bells place, so I wouldnt do much after-dark wandering. He has a night vision scope.
Mooney, what am I supffosed to do? Just sit around in the woods all day and then come home to sleepff? Im getting pffored!
Id go with you! said Mouse. Id rather be bored from doing nothing than bored from knowing nothing.
Mouse had not been in our thoughts a lot the last couple of days, what with the hunt and all. She didnt complain, or even talk as much as usual, but she was having her own problems. I kept hoping the friendly humans around her at school would help us outtalk to the School Board, or somethingbut nothing much was happening as far as I could tell. I thought maybe they werent as friendly as Mouse and I had believed.
Tomorrow is Friday. One more day till the weekend. Maypffe we can meet somewhere on Saturday. John will pffe here too.
Yeah. That would be nice. If its not raining too much. Mouse sounded so depressed.
I recognize the scent of the hunter you had here today, I proclaimed, changing the subject. Hes the Elk Skull man. Hes a terripffle shot. That was a lie, I knew. Lazytail and I had never given him a proper chance.
Dont test him! Mooney ordered sharply. Dont try any damn fancy stuff until we get things straightened out. This type of a hunt cant last long. Soon theyll shoot a dog or two, declare victory, and quit. Make sure its not you.
It didnt seem to me the hound dog hunter would feel like declaring victory, but I didnt say anything. My humans were gloomy enough already. Maybe the hunters really would quit before long.
Nothing bad happened on Friday. Quite the contrary! Friday, February 2, 1990 became a very special day in my life. Thats the day Lazytail and I lost our virginity together.
We were in the higher, westernmost part of Mooneys Wood, near the last of the beaver ponds. The open water allowed for a view, and Sunlight too, if Sun happened to be shining, which he was. A sharp breeze from the north sent small dark-bellied clouds scudding along fast and low, almost at treetop level, and the sky above them was clear. Delightful day.
I was resting next to Lazytailsometimes dozing, sometimes awake. Cicéqi lay by my other side, also seeming asleep or half-asleep. The others were scattered about haphazardly, but none far away.
Cicéqi spokesoftly and dreamily. Shes ready, you know.
The Spirit Pup must have slipped a few thoughts into my head with those words, because I understood instantly what she was talking about. Lazytail was not out of season at all. She was just entering the second half of her split-heat or wolf-heat. Funny I hadnt thought of it before, and a great joke on Mooney. Lazytail never had been ready, not even while I was gone. Now she was.
I didnt move, but my heart began to hammer. Cicéqi spoke again, this time with words alone.
I have some advice for you. Will you take advice, or shall I save my breath?
My mouth was dry. I licked lips and chin and nose, then answered meekly, I would pffe very hapffy to have some advice. What can you tell me?
Lazytail is as horny as you are. She has been for quite a while, but her body needs to loosen up and stretch enough to hold you, and thats just not possible until the proper time. That time can be today, if you both are careful and gentle. Dont just push and bump your way in, like youve been doing so far. That is the traditional way of it, but shes still not ready for that kind of treatment. You would only drive her away like you have before.
Pffut if I dont pffush, how am I supffosed to get inside?
Ah, thats the secret. You dont have to. All you need to do is climb on top and get things lined up correctly. Lazytail will do the rest. And remember, dont push! At least, not at first. Let her choose the pace, and shell allow you in a little at a time as she realizes it doesnt hurt any more.
Thats it? Thats your advice?
Thats all you get right now, and all you need. Lazytail is looking forward to this as much as you are.
Now, about our payment
Weve helped you out. Now its time for you to do the same. A little thing, no trouble at all. We want to share this with you. We can feel you from where we are, but thats not as good. We want to be inside.
I knew what she was referring to. OldCoyote supposedly kept these creatures inside him almost all the time. We were made for each other. Supposedly.
There was only one proper answer, and my nervousness had nothing to do with it.
Yes. Of course.
Good. We will start now. First, you must open yourself to us. Let me show you how
I cant describe well what Cicéqi taught me to do. It was mental, and spiritual, and physical too. A sort of unfolding and dropping of barriers, but only for that which was already a part of me. I dont think I ever could have learned it on my own, but I will never forget it either.
As I held myself in that certain way, I could feel the Presence of the Pups more clearly than ever before. The others were approaching slowly from all directions, and Cicéqi was already rubbing her head and shoulder against my side. Suddenly that whole part of me felt warm and wet, like I had been splashed with dishwater or blood. The feeling lasted only an instant, and when I whipped my head around to look, the fur was dry and Cicéqi was gone.
Father, pay attention! We need our turns too!
The four remaining Pups came in, and something else as well, although I didnt really notice it at the time. I was rather overwhelmed, after all.
I looked around bemusedly. Just the four of us leftLazytail, Smokey, Princess, and me. Flesh and blood, one and all. Sort of.
They were all staring at meintently but without fear. All standing, now. I got up and sidled over to Lazytail, then slipped my muzzle under her belly to stroke it gently from beneath. She always likes that, even when shes not in heat. This time she arched her back and shuddered, then stretched herself long. I know exactly how she felt.
We traded rubs and nuzzles and licks as we had so many times before, and she held steady as I climbed on top, also as before. I think she enjoyed the feeling of my weight resting on her, front legs embracing her waist like the arms of a human. I certainly enjoyed it. This stage never lasted long though, because I would always be working away with my other end, and she would sit down and twist away when I began to make progress. I hadnt realized I was hurting herthought she was just changing her mind. Again.
I took Cicéqis advice, moved slowly and oh so carefully, slipped into the right spot with little fumbling. I was getting good at that part. I felt Lazytail shift as if to sit down and I froze, holding myself in position with the tip only barely inside her.
Lazytail was surprised, I think. It had never gone like this before. The game was still fun. She stood still at first, just like me. That was a pleasure in itself, standing together like that, except that it was so hard for me to keep still, especially when she began to relax and move against me ever so slightly. Just a little bit forward, my body seemed to say; she wont object. I began to tremble with the effort of holding myself back, but I did succeed, and we stayed that way for a time. Suddenly, without any warning I could detect, Lazytail began to push against me in a kind of tentative, backward stretching motion, and I felt myself sliding into her. I lost track of everything besides the sensation of that small, slow movement. Nothing else could ever be so important. When she stopped, I was farther inside than I had ever been before, and she showed no signs of wanting to move away.
Sometimes parts of you seem to work without instruction from your head. I still managed to keep myself from pushing, but I had no control over the series of rhythmic, pleasurable contractions which began then. They werent even in muscles I knew I possessed. I couldnt stop myself from twitching strongly with each contraction, but that didnt seem to cause a problem. Lazytail squeezed back in response.
Another stretch, and anotherless time between each oneand then Lazytails fourth push came up against increasing resistance. Resistance from me, not her. A canine penis is funny that waytheres a bump near the base when one is excited. A very, very large bump which gets even larger if the shaft behind it is squeezed. A female whos capable and willing may let you inside, but after that her muscles tend to clamp down involuntarily, locking you in place. Theyre very strong muscles. Check an anatomy book.
On that last push I lost some of my self control, and I pushed back. Pretty hard, Im afraid, but Lazytail still didnt move away. Instead she braced herself and joined her efforts with mine. She seemed to have forgotten any fear of discomfort. What we were doing was too important to worry about discomfort any more. Suddenly the resistance disappeared, and I lurched forward a little. Lazytail yelped and tried to sit down, but it was too late. She couldnt sit down unless I did. We were stuck, as the humans say.
Lazytail yelped only that one timesurprise rather than pain, I think. She was already squeezing me in a grip neither of us could possibly break. That grip was not painful. Far from it! I licked my nose in bemusement, and Lazytail did the same. So this was what mating was like. Not bad. Not bad at all! I got down from her back and swung around so we stood tail to tail, still attached to each other. I dont know why. We all do that. Instinct, I guess.
We stayed that way for a long time. I dont know how long. Time didnt matter. Nothing mattered except each other. Probably looked pretty boring to Smokey and Princess, or maybe not.
We stayed together for a long time, and it was good.
Different from my fantasies. Better.
Those contractions kept on coming by themselves, mostly in synchrony with the ones I could feel from Lazytail. Kind of hypnotic, actually. I hear its a dangerous timeenemies can sneak up on you, and even if you see them its hard to run or fight with eight legs. I also hear that extreme fear can cause a quick loss of erection and immediate release. Makes sense.
No such problem for us. Nothing but friends around us, and nothing worth thinking about besides each other. We did it all over again a couple of hours later, but after that it was time to start back toward Sunbow.
Lazytail was in wonderful spiritseven more frolicsome than usual on the way home. So was I. She kept sneaking close to jump on top of mesometimes to try and knock me over, sometimes to hold on and pretend I was the female and she was the male. I would hold steady for her, then sit down suddenly to make her lose balance. Several times she almost persuaded me to join her in a third mating, and finally we did, on South Ridge. Glorious view of Sunbow and Wynoochee in the northeast, Sun setting in the west. Not that I paid much attention to those things.
= chapter 22 =
Mooney was cross with me for being late home, but she didnt stay mad for long. She had news to tell. Or rather, she and Mouse both had news.
Mouse, why dont you start? Tell him what happened at school today. All I know is what you said to me. I still cant believe they really got suspended! I thought that sort of thing didnt happen any more.
Mooney! Do you want me to tell it or not?
Sorry. Ill shut up.
Thank you. Well, Coyote, you know how weve been thinking our friends didnt care about us? Well, thats not true. When you were gone to Pullman, that was okay, but when I told them you wouldnt be allowed in school at all any more, they just couldnt believe it. None of the teachers had said anything. If I hadnt told them, they still wouldnt know why you werent coming any more.
They talked about it and talked about it, and finally, during afternoon break, David and Leroy said we needed to stage a protest.
Mouse paused for a moment, smiling. It was a real protest, like Mooney talks about! They said I shouldnt go with themit wouldnt be right. So I went to Mrs. Seeleys room like I was supposed to, but I listened carefully, and I heard a lot. Mr. Sawyers office is just down the hall.
I think there were only eight or nine of them who actually had the nerve to cut class and go. They had a sit-in on the hall floor in front of the office, but it didnt last long. I dont think they even had a chance to talk. All I heard was Mr. Sawyer telling them it was totally unacceptable behavior, and every one of them was suspended for the day. He said their parents were being called to pick them up. I thought I liked Mr. Sawyer, but he didnt sound very nice just then. And he wasnt fooling, either. The kids stayed in the hallway, and I heard their parents come in one by one to pick them up. Some of them were really mad. Nothing like this has ever happened before.
Mooney spoke up suddenly, Thats the way it starts, you know. No one thinks its importantor working, eitherbut it gets people to thinking. If Mr. Sawyer werent such a nice man we could really get something going. But Mr. Sawyer isnt the problemits the School Board. And Mr. Hubert. He was against us even before he lost that calf.
You know, Leroy is the pffoy I supffosedly tried to pffite. Its kind of a joke for him to get in troupffle trying to helpff me. I guess.
There was the usual conversational pause, and Mouse started to say something, but Mooney told her to hush for a minute. She was thinking.
Ive got it! Well call in the newspaper. They love stories like this. Student suspended for trying to protect vicious seeing-eye dog! No, thats no good. Better try again. Well think of something. Couldnt hurt, anyway.
What couldnt hurt?
Publicity. School Board members love it and hate it. They need to be seen doing good, kind, productive things so they can get re-elected, but they hate being criticized. Well explain how Mouse was brought all the way from Seattle for the special learning environment at Sunbow, but its all being spoiled because shes not allowed to take her Guide Dog to school. You dont mind, do you, Mouse? Its the first good idea Ive had on this.
No, Mooney, its all right. I know what youre trying to do. Just dont ask me to talk in front of a bunch of people, okay?
Okay. Good. Ill get right to work on it.
But, totally off the subject, where are your pups, Stinky? I thought theyd be rolling on in by now, but I dont see them yet. Arent they hungry tonight?
I dont know if theyre hungry or not, pffut theyre here already. The Pffupffs are inside me. I nosed my belly and stole a peek at Lazytails. Maybe I had some puppies hidden in there, too.
Inside you? Like in the old legends?
I nodded. Sort of.
I dont think I want to know.
Mooney, I didnt transform them into turds, or anything like that. We agreed were not going to do it that way. They justwent inside. Theyre pffart of me now.
Okay. If you say so. Dont mind me if Im slow to catch on. Im only human, after all.
How do you take five pups inside you, anyway? Theyre small, but put all together, they outweigh you.
I dont know. They didnt tell me. Cicéqi says Im not supposed to think that way.
Well, that is our plan, Mooney concurred. Hope it works. I guess this means I can put away the other food bowls, doesnt it? Thats a relief, at least. Those pups are real gluttons. Worse than you. She tousled my head and ears for a minute, but wouldnt go for the belly rub. That was okay. My belly had already had a good workout.
What do you think, Mouse? Should we believe this guys story? You know how reliable his word is.
Yes, Mooney, we can always believe him when hes being unbelievable. Hes not smart enough to lie then.
Pffut if you dont pffelieve anything I say, then Im unpffelievapffle all the time, so you always have to pffelieve me. I think.
See, Coyote? Youre just not smart enough to handle it. Take a rest. That was from Mouse. She wasnt as submissive as she used to be.
Now heres my news, Mooney interjected. Its not so important as Mouses, but I thought youd like to hear it. The hunter was here again. You call him the Elk Skull Man, but his name is Kelly Perkins. He said the other hunter quit. That guys not from around here, he said. What can you expect? Someone stole his damn dogs and he blames it on spirits. Let me tell you, theres no way no spirits gonna take a radio collar and put it up top a two-hundred-foot hemlock. Not that Im saying there aint no such things as spirits, mind you. I seen a few things as makes you wonder, now and then. Just this winter I seen some things around my place as makes you wonder. He stopped talking then. I think he was waiting for a little encouragement, but I wouldnt give him any. He probably wanted to talk about you.
Aw, Mooney! I would have liked to hear what I looked like. Maypffe you can ask him tomorrow.
Maybe, but I doubt it. I dont think I like him much. He chews tobacco and spits it all over the place.
Yes, I know. He had left a fair bit around Sunbow, but none by his tree platforms. Not a dummy.
John showed up later that evening. I gave him a heros welcome, and Lazytail joined me. Smokey was too shy, and refused to approach.
Dont worry apffout Smokey, I said. Mr. Pffuffey is the only human hes ever trusted right away. Hell pffe okay if you give him a little time.
Mr. Burrey was not popular at Sunbow any more.
Well, I like Mr. Pffurrey! Its not his fault hes pffossessed pffy an evil spffirit! Mooney would be able to understand that. She was always making excuses for people who had problems. She even said communists were just human beings like everyone else. Thats not what Mouse and I heard at school! I thought anyone who could speak kindly about communists should be able to handle a soul-devouring werewolf. I said so.
Its not the same thing, Mooney and John replied together. Should have known.
Okay. Forget it. Anyway, well pffropffapffly never hear from Mr. Pffurrey again.
The phone rang. It was Mr. Burrey. I hate coincidences.
Mooney gave him a piece of her mind, and almost hung up on him, but she didnt do that. Hanging up is not Mooneys style. She gets mad, all right, but she always lets you say your piece. Then she demolishes you. I dont talk back much.
Mooney listened, then began to look worried, even sympathetic. She excused herself to Mr. Burrey, covered the mouthpiece, and turned to the rest of us. Now that I know about the werewolf curse, he wants to talk about it. He says its giving him a lot more trouble this month, more than it ever has before. He says he should hardly feel it at all this early, but its already on his mind a lot, and hes afraid he may be dangerous when the full moon comes. May be dangerous. Ha!
Pardon me, Mr. Burrey? Yes. I thought you probably heard that. Well, I guess so. Yes you can talk to Stinky, but itll be on the speaker phone setting, so John and Mouse and I will be listening too. Okay.
All right kidits for you.
Hello, Coyote? Can you hear me?
Yes, Mr. Pffurrey. How are you doing? Were all fine here. I dont mind talking on the phone, but I wish I could see and smell the person Im talking to. It never seems quite real to me.
Im fine too, I guess. For now. Listen Coyote, how much have you told them about me?
I told them everything I can remempffer, pffut Im sure I missed a few things. Youre not mad, are you? I thought they needed to know. Also, it was getting too confusing, and Mooney knew I was hiding too much. Dont worry. They wont hurt you or get you in troupffle.
No, Coyote, Im not mad. Your people really do have a right to know. If you feel you broke any promises of secrecy, please consider them forgiven. It makes things easier for me now, anyway.
What I need to know is, what were your impressions when we did that Neulebskar ceremony on the Solstice? Did you feel we were doing White or Black magic?
I dont know, Mr. Pffurrey. I know youre talking apffout good or evil, pffut Ive run into quite a pffit of magic lately, and it didnt seem to care either way. Excepfft the Ga`at. That one seemed pffretty evil, I guesspffut you wouldnt know apffout that. You were already gone pffy then. You know Im not too clear apffout good and evil for just regular living! How can I tell apffout magic?
I paused, then added, So whats with the Nolefwith that rat sacrifice thing? It didnt seem to do much, as far as I could feel. Maypffe a little quiver of something. I dont know.
Well, the reason isyou remember that trilobite fossil? Well, it seems to have picked up some sort of an aura. My hand tingles when I touch it, and its hard to put down. I think it has become a talisman, but I dont know if it will help me or hurt me. What do you think?
Well, I Mr. Pffurrey, I just dont know. What do you think, John? You know apffout Medicine Pffower.
Peter, I cant help you much either. I was never trained for anything like what Coyote described to me. My people dont do sacrifices, only symbolic offerings, and thats not the same thing at all. My gut feeling is to leave the thing alone, or better yet, destroy it. But maybe Im just prejudiced. Of course, Im not too thrilled with Foxs plans for you either. You need help, all right, but I dont think we can give it to you. I guess youll have to track down some of those other contacts you were telling Coyote about. Good luck!
Yes. Well, thanks for your help and understanding. I really do appreciate it. Ill keep you informed. And dont worryI plan to be far away from Sunbow when the full moon comes. Thanks again. Bye.
= chapter 23 =
That night I heard a goat kid bleating out by Mr. Bells place. It sounded hungry and scared. And angry. That went on for hours, and then I heard a single rifle shot. Big rifle. I knew it had to be the Elk Skull Man. Some serious yelping followed that shot, and I recognized the voice. It was Jake, and he sounded hurt, but not dying. That is, his voice didnt get weak and fade away like he was dying, but clearly he thought he was.
Everyone woke with the gunshot, and Mooney called out to me from her bedroom. Stinky, dont you dare go outside! I dont care who that isyoure not going anywhere!
Dont worry, Mooney. Im not going anywhere. Pffut I know who that is. Its Jake.
Jake? Kelly Perkins shot Jake? Oh, boy, Mr. Bell is going to be pissed! He loves that worthless old dog. I can still hear him yelping. Wonder how bad hes hurt?
I have excellent ears, but Mr. Bells place is too far away to hear a regular human conversation, only yelling. Yelling is what I heard before long, and there was a lot of it. Afterward a truck started up and drove away, and the bleating went with it. Jake had already shut up. The night remained quiet after that, but we all had trouble getting back to sleep.
Next morning was crisp and coldcolder than it had been for a while. All the mud was frozen again, so it was good walking weather for the humans. Im not sure quite how the decision was made, but somehow we slipped from breakfast preparation into preparation for a major expedition into Mooneys Wood. Mouse was coming too, and Mooney had dragged out the machete.
My feelings were distinctly mixed. I loved to share my favorite spots with the humans, but Lazytail and I had other plans in mind for the day. Keeping myself off of her during the night had been a considerable trial for me, and she was not restraining herself at all. Mooney had scolded Lazytail twice for being a tease, and I couldnt believe she hadnt caught on yet. Lazytail and I smelled like each other, but the humans missed all that.
Mooney packed a lunch, and we hiked a long way in before stopping to eat it. Afterward the humans stayed to chat and admire the forest, and Lazytail and I arranged to get lost for a time. Of course, Smokey and Princess managed to be there too. I was never alone much any more.
I heard Mooney calling while we were together, but that didnt seem nearly as important as what we were doing just then. Mooney was rather irritated when we finally got back. Ive been calling for half an hour! Where have you been?
Out in the forest. Sometimes we need to pffe pffy ourselves, without humans. I wouldnt leave you here. Mooney and John wouldnt admit it, but I knew they were both hopelessly lost. Without me they would have had to follow one of Fry Creeks branches back to Sunbow, but it would have been a long, wet, nasty walk for them and twice as bad for Mouse. We had come in through a maze of game paths, and I had chosen all the best, so that the machete had hardly been used at all.
Oh, I know. I just wish youd come when youre called. Even human children do.
I went into submissive posture. Sorry, Mooney. I wasnt sorry, but it seemed the expedient thing to do. I dont think Mooney was fooled.
Mooney said it was time to head back for Sunbow then, but to me it felt too early for that, and I said so. Maypffe you can tell us a story first, I suggested.
Stinky, you know Im not any good with stories. You tell one.
Oh, I dont know. How apffout
Ill tell a story. That was Mouse, speaking. Mooney and John and I were stunned.
Yes, pfflease, I suggested. Ive never heard a story from you pffefore.
Okay, Ill try. You probably wont like it though. I dont.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived with her mother in a big apartment building in Pasadena, California. The little girl had never met her father, and she didnt know who he was. Her mother would never tell her. She didnt care that much, because her mother loved her dearly, and that was enough.
The little girl and her mother had a nice apartment and all the things they needed because the mother sold drugs for a living. She told her daughter its a dangerous job, but the pay is good. The little girl didnt like the strange people who would come to her apartment sometimes, but there was nothing she could do about it, and it had been even worse before, when her mother was a hooker. Most of the time she didnt see the people, because she had to stay in her bedroom while they were there.
One day the little girl heard her mother arguing with two men who had come over. That happened sometimes, and it always frightened her. This time the voices got very mean, and there were gunshots. Three fast ones, and then two slow ones. The shots were not very loud, but they were real. Guns with silencers sound like that. One of the men told the other one to cut it out, she was dead already. Then they told each other they might as well check for stuff and money.
The little girl had a fire escape outside her bedroom window, and she knew she should go out that way, but she was afraid. She was afraid to stay, and afraid to go, so she just opened the window and waited there.
When the two men came into the room they didnt notice her at first, but then one of them did, and he said shit, a witness. The other man was the one who had the gun. He started to point it at the little girl, but she got out through the window before he could use it.
While the little girl was running down the fire escape, the man with the gun called down that she should run away, run away, run far, run fast; it didnt matter because he would find her no matter where she went. He would be waiting for her when she least expected it, and he would kill her. He would find her and kill her. Then he laughed and laughed, the way people sometimes do when theyre on drugs.
The little girl went to her best friends house and borrowed some money for a bus ticket, but she didnt tell anyone where she was going, not even her friend. She went to Seattle.
In Seattle she was lost and scared and cold, and a policeman tried to stop her and talk to her. The little girls mother hadnt trusted policemen, and the little girl didnt either. She tried to run away, but she slipped on some ice and hit her head and died. The end.
Now, that was a story. I could understand what Mouse was saying, but how do you respond to something like that? I didnt even try. Mooney did, though.
Is that a true story?
No. I just made it up. I have amnesia, so I wouldnt be able to remember something like that. Now, lets talk about something else. Please.
We talked about other things, but I dont remember what they were. That story kept worming its way through my thoughts, and it made me feel sick and angry. Not at Mouse, of course.
Mouse felt different on the walk back. Not happy, but relieved, like she had accomplished a difficult task that was very important to her. I tried to send back a feeling of pride and approval, and I think I succeeded.
Sun began to fade behind a thin, opalescent overcast during our walk home. Almost looked like snow again. I voiced my thoughts about that, and John seemed surprised. Dont you guys ever watch the weather reports? Theyve been talking about it for a couple of days now.
Mooney replied for me, Our schedules been all messed up. To be quite honest, Ive been good and disgusted with the outside world lately, and sometimes the news is more than I can bear. Is it a big storm like last time?
No. We may not get any at all out here, but I think Ill move the truck down to the road tonight, just in case. It would be a very bad idea for me to miss work Monday morning.
We got back to Sunbow before dark, but that was okay. Mooney said the hunt was off for the weekend, and there are several ways to approach the house without being seen from Mr. Bells place. She walked ahead anyway, just in case.
We had failed to encounter any Tofus on our expedition, and so were forced to feed on steaks and mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream, which John bought and cooked himself. Mooney didnt complain about the meat at all, except to criticize John for his extravagance. She ate a full meal, herself. Maybe the episode of the chickens had affected her more than we realized.
After dinner, Mooney worked up the courage to call Mr. Bell and ask him about the shot during the night. He told her Jake had been bothering the stake-out goat, and got his tail shot off. Shot clean off, on purpose. Hadnt even had to go to the vetjust slapped on a dollop of Bag Balm and wrapped it up, no problem, it would heal just fine. Most hounds had their tails docked anyhow. Still, it irritated him no end, and he sent that feller down the road. He could go shoot someone elses dog.
So this is your terripffle shot, is it? You stay away from him, Stinky. Do you hear me? If that man points his rifle at you, it wont be your tail hes aiming at!
Mooney, theres no one else out hunting us tonight, is there?
No. Theres only Mr. Perkins, and hes not going anywhere. He said so himself.
Then its safe for us to go out for a run, isnt it? We really do need the exercise. You dont mind, do you Mouse? I pffromise not to let any of us get hurt!
Mouse nodded her head. She didnt want me to go, but I know she didnt want to seem over-dependent. Mooney and John reluctantly agreed as well.
Free! Hardly out of sight before Lazytail and I were at it again. Both of us fast and sure this timewe didnt have to be careful at all any more. The pleasure was just as intense, though. Maybe better. Afterward we raced each other north, along the river road. Lazytail and I left the others behind right away.
Its a long run to the elk skull cabin, but we were there before I realized it. You can see it from the road.
All the inside lights were off, which is pretty typical for a human house at one in the morning. Yard was lit up like a parking lot, though, and the glaring mercury lamp hurt my eyes. How I hate those things! The urge to play a trick was so strong, I think the Spirit Pups may have been messing with my head. Or maybe not. Maybe Im the one who influences them. Whatever.
Smokey and Princess joined us as I stood there, thinking. It had to be something fast and safe. Safe for all of us. And special. A good trick has to be special.
Television gave me my idea. Horror movies often show beasties tearing through walls to get at their victims, and this place would be easy. Cedar siding is neither strong nor hard, and one can do a lot of damage with teeth and claws.
Good, wide old-growth boards, cracked and twisted from exposure to the elementsI chose a place where one corner had popped away and braced myself, ready to sink savage teeth into the soft, defenseless wood. Kelly Perkins bedroom would be on the other side of this wall. Had to be.
Go! I bit down hard, twisted viciously, and a paw-wide strip split free from the main board. I walked away, and the strip came with me, but it didnt come quietly. Splinter-crack, nail-shriek, gurgling, bloodthirsty growlthe board and I were not being quiet at all.
Rush back, grab again, pull away. Again. Third strip torn free, one board almost gone, time for the claws. My mouth was full of paint chips and splinters anyway. Those claws couldnt remove wood as well as my teeth, but they contributed quite adequately in their own waysent out sinister, frantic, scrabbling sounds as they skittered over the shattered remnants of siding board, ripped through the tar paper beneath, and raked across the wood strips and plaster nubbins of the rooms inner wall. It was easier than I had thought it would be. Plaster chunks popped loose with each stroke, and I think with a few minutes work I could have dug my way clear through. I didnt have minutes, though. This man was dangerous, and I needed to be out of there before he had a chance to respond.
I heard crashes from inside, and curses, and a thud that made the wall quiver beneath my claws. Finally the bedroom light came on.
Time to bid farewell. Long, low howl, hammed up Hollywood style, then words, with deliberate enhancement of my voices natural unhuman quality, We have come for yoo-ooh, Kel-ly Pffer-kins! In the da-arr-ki-ness we will wa-it. Howl repeated, quavering and demented, then out of there, full speed. I knew the others would follow me.
Morning was Sunday, and the humans slept in, so I did too. That was fine by me. I rather prefer staying up all night and sleeping during the day. John woke me.
Hey, Coyote! Would you and your friends like dog food for breakfast, or eggs and sausages?
Tough decision. Eggs and sausages, pfflease.
Mooney objected, John, would you stop it? Sausages and eggs are too rich. Theyll give them diarrhea, and theyre too expensive. Youre not made of money just because you have a good job.
No, but I have enough to buy treats for my friends.
My kind of man!
The snow had finally arrivedfive or six inches on the ground, and still falling heavily. Hypnotizing stuff, in the morning light. Mouse watched it through me for a time, then left to put on her heavy clothes. We furry ones ran outside straightaway.
Lazytail and I found a nice spot behind the machinery barn where we could be alone together, but Mooney must have been getting suspicious because she discovered us there shortly afterward, butt to butt.
Coyote! What are you doing?
Dreamily I answered, What does it look like were doing?
I can see what youre doing! Stop it!
We cant. Were stuck. Mooneys discovery didnt seem to count as deadly danger. So far. At the moment it was more of a distraction.
Mooney was silent for a minute, then began to chuckle quietly. My little boy is stuck. Are you enjoying yourself?
Yes, Mooney, pffut Id enjoy myself even more if I didnt have to keepff talking.
Well, excuse me! I guess well just have to talk later.
I suppose youll tell me youre just an animal, and you dont know any better.
If youre really feeling bold youll tell me I had my chance when I sent you away to Pullman. You might even say that Lazytail doesnt care who the father is, as long as her pups are loved and cared for. Theres all sorts of things you might say if you were brave enough.
Well, consider them said. Who am I to stand in the way of love? Come on back to the house when youre done. Mooney left us, then.
This was a feeling time, not a thinking time, and I felt very, very good. No more hiding from Mooney! When we were done, Lazytail and I rushed back to her for a hug and greeting session, and everything was okay.
Mouse and I made another snow shelter, bigger and better than the last one. This snowfall was easier to pack, even though there was less of it, and Mouse was working more efficiently.
I wasnt very efficient at all, but my water bucket runs were not all that critical to the project. I think Mouse was sending me off to get me and my pack out of her way more than anything else. She could have simply used the hose. She never complained about how long it took me to dance back with my sloshing, half-empty bucket. Finally I ran off into the woods and didnt come back at all. Until lunch.
The shelter was finished then. Mouse pulled me away and around so we could admire it together from all angles.
Thats a good one, alright. You could last out a real blizzard in that.
Yes, I agreed. Or if the roof were lower you could use it to have pffupffies in. Excepfft that it would melt too soon.
Mouse looked at me strangely. I thought you were supposed to dig a tunnel in a dirt bank for that, or use a hollow log or something.
Yes, that would pffe pffetter, I guess.
= chapter 24 =
It was cold again by Sunday night, and the snow plow still hadnt come, but John was able to get out by following the ruts from other vehicles. He had brought chains with him. After he was gone, the phone rang. Mooney answered it.
It was Leroys mother, and she was calling to offer help. To offer help! I couldnt believe it.
She says her son is really upset about you being kicked out of school, and she agrees with him. She thought the whole sit-in thing was silly, but the kids, at least, are supposed to act childish. Leroy is not a troublemaker, and it really irritated her to have him treated like one.
Yes, I know, Mouse interrupted. Thats what I was trying to tell you. Everybodys talking about it now. Even the teachers. Mostly theyre on our side. Mrs. Seeleys room is next to the staff room and I can hear them through the walls sometimes. You know, I think even Mr. Sawyer is actually on our side, even though hes acting like a dork. I heard him say he was doing fine until the School Board butted in and started ordering him around. He said if they try that trick again hes going to apply for transfer to another district.
He also said it would be nice if Mr. Burrey would come back to work. Hes on emergency personal leave. Something serious, they say, but no one knows what. It was his help that got the program started, and people listen to him.
Mouse! Why didnt you tell me this before?
I dont know. Sometimes I forget things. This was all stuff I heard Friday afternoon, after the sit-in.
What else did you hear?
Oh, I dont know. Nothing, I guess.
Youre sure, now?
Yes, Mooney. I guess. Ill tell you if I think of anything else.
We slept that night, and Mouse went to school next morning with tips from Mooney on how to foment further student unrest. When Mooney got back she prepared to do the same with parents, and my pack and I went out to make ourselves invisible. As we were leaving, Mooney took out the garden hose and tried to melt away as many paw prints as possible. Especially those leading into the house.
Im not sure how well this is going to work, and its going to make one hell of an ice slick, but theres not much choice about it. Hope no one comes over today.
Me, too. Pffut well pffe okay out in the woods.
Yeah, I just bet you will. Dont wear yourselves out, and try to think noble thoughts. We dont want those pups turning out like their father!
We didnt wear ourselves out. Only a little. And I did try to think noble thoughts, except Im still not quite sure what that means. We napped a lot between our nobility practice sessions, and made a fine day of it.
I had us at South Ridge well before dusk, and we headed down as soon as Mooneys bedroom light went on. I was curious about how the campaign had gone.
Nothing much on the school protest front, but I heard an interesting tale from Mr. Perkins today. That man was seriously frightened, night before last. Says he was attacked by evil spirits. Mooney looked at me pointedly.
Spffirits? I dont know anything apffout spffirits attacking Mr. Pfferkins. I held tail and ears high in a parody of innocence, so that Mooney knew I was teasing her. My voice gave a clue or two as well.
So, you dont know anything about evil spirits, eh? Well, what do you know?
First, tell me Mr. Pfferkins story. I want to hear apffout these evil spffirits. Maypffe we need to pffut out some garlic or something, to pffrotect ourselves. Or spffinach. Evil spffirits hate spffinach. Im sure of it.
Mooney almost laughed, but she stopped herself.
If youre the evil spirit, youre as stupid as you are disobedient. That man is not someone you should be messing with! Yesterday he put out traps and a trip-wire shotgun around his house. He even replaced the lead pellets with chopped-up silver coins. Old coins, made of real silver. No joke is worth that.
I was taken aback. Hadnt considered booby traps. I would definitely leave that place alone in the future.
Sorry, Mooney. I never thought he would do something like that!
Thats your problem, Stinky. Youre smart enough, but you never bother to think, most of the time. You just act.
But enough of thatweve been through it all before. Youll be pleased to know your little performance was quite successful. Mr. Perkins said the Devil himself came for him that night, or something similar. In a malevolent, unearthly voice it demanded his soul, and with razor teeth and claws it began to tear through the wall of his house like it was so much rotten stump wood. Mr. Perkins said it would have gone right through that wall, but something stopped it in the end. He thinks it was the horseshoe he has nailed up above his bed.
Mr. Perkins spent all day yesterday in church, and he even persuaded Reverend Moke to go to his house and bless it. He set up the traps afterward, just in case. And he said hes probably going to quit the hunting contract hes working on with Sheriff Pickworth. Hell decide for sure later today.
Hey! Thats great! I didnt realize evil spffirits could be so pffersuasive. Ill have to remempffer that.
Oh, never mind. Come on indinner is ready.
Rain came that night, cold rain with a little sleet. Turned the snow into slush. We all stayed home.
Tuesday we went out again all day, just to be prudent, but Mooney thought the hunt might be over. The only casualties so far had been Jakes tail, and that pack of Walker Hounds.
Mr. Bell came to visit while we were out. He told Mooney she shouldnt put herself to so much trouble trying to hide her animals from him. He said he might be a little slow, but he wasnt stupid, and no way could she keep him in the dark about something like that. Mooney says he smiled then, and told her not to worry. If her animals were calf killers he would most likely have noticed it by now. As long as his herd was safe, she could count on him to back her up. He even agreed to conceal his knowledge of our presence at Sunbowsaid he had already been doing that. He also mentioned that Jakes tail had got infected, and had to be trimmed off properly at the vet. He was thinking about asking Mr. Perkins to pay for it.
I guess Mr. Bell is not such a bad neighbor, really. And Jake, too. We certainly could have done worse.
Nothing much happened Tuesday night or Wednesday, except with Lazytail and me. We were pretty wrapped up in each other, so that all these intrigues felt somewhat unreal. I paid attention while Mooney or Mouse talked about them, but when the humans were gone, all I thought about was Lazytail. I lost count of how many times we mated, but it was a lot, and we never tired of it. It was better than food.
Wednesday night was the first night of the full Moon. Only one month since Mr. Burrey and I had run together on the Palouse, but somehow that time felt far in the past, as if it were from a different life.
The night was rainy. Too cloudy to see Moon, but I knew she was up there, full and perfect. At first I kept running a paw over the top of my head and muzzle, folding the ear forward to reassure myself that it was still long enough. No problem. I was me, okay to relax, Foxs cure really had worked. I spent the night indoors, with Smokey and Lazytail and Mouse.
Next evening I learned there had been another stock killing: A mature Angus bull with his throat ripped out. That was more than a little unbelievable. Even a cougar would have trouble doing that, assuming it had the nerve to try. People do exaggerate, though. The farmer said he had killed the bugger; shot it while it was feeding, just before dawn. It had been a huge dog or wolf cross or something like thattoo big for any full-blooded wolf that might have got loose. Dead, anyway. Gut shot real bad, blood everywhere, heavy blood trail into the woods. Never did find the body.
That sounds like something Mr. Pffurrey might do, excepfft he tries to pffe a lot more careful, and he never kills stock. Also, he pffromised he would pffe far away right now. Mooney had just given me her report, and it had been pretty favorable except for that little bombshell. Kelly Perkins had definitely quit the hunt, the campaign to reinstate me at school was developing nicely, and Mooney had just found a land survey company that was willing to get the logging permit process started without any money up front.
Well, I hope it wasnt Mr. Burrey, and I hope the critter was really killed. Otherwise theyll hire another bunch of hunters and start all over again.
Would you like me to go over that way tonight? I can smell things out and tell you for sure whats going on. Dont worry, Ill be careful.
No. You might leave paw prints, or a scent trail that can be traced back this way. Much better for you to stay home again tonight. I know, youve napped a lot today and youre not tired, but I dont want to be taking any chances we dont have to. You can go play with Lazytail out behind the barn, if you like. I wont bother you there.
Mooney actually winked at me then. Fickle creatures, these humans. Lazytail, too. She seemed to be losing interest in the mating game, and I knew what that meantanother night or two of fun, and then a year of celibacy. Oh, well. It had been wonderful while it lasted.
No sense wasting an opportunity, though. We had already eaten dinner. Uh, thanks, Mooney. I think we may go pfflay right now.
Moon rose while Lazytail and I were together. I could see her this time through a break in the clouds, and spared a few thoughts to wonder what would happen if the werewolf transformation occurred right then. I could still be susceptible, after all. Mr. Burrey had said the first night didnt have to trigger a change, but if the curse was active there would always be a transformation on the second night.
Nothing magical happened, though. Only the sharing-magic we had found in each other.
Youve just read the penultimate installment of Anthros seven-part serial presentation of New Coyote, Michæl Bergeys imaginative novel of ancient myths and the modern mindset. Want to see how it ends? Get the Anthro Press edition of New Coyote, and youll know without needing to wait for the next issue!